Violence against women is often not due to lack of legislative framework but ineffective implementation, Union Minister for Women and Child Development Krishna Tirath has told a UN panel, amid a series of violent attacks in India.
"As recent events of horrific violence against women in India and other parts of the world indicate, it is often not the lack of legislative framework that hampers our efforts, but rather its ineffective implementation", Tirath said yesterday.
"We, of course, need to strengthen legislative and policy framework as well", she said in her intervention during the High Level Round Table at the 57th Session of the Commission of Status of Women at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
Tirath said gender-based "unequal power structures" and perception of the role of women in society are to be blamed for the violence.
"The widespread nature of this problem is a manifestation of unequal power structures among men and women, and of how women's role is perceived", she said.
"We need to ensure that the stigmatisation of victims, the trivialisation of the crime and impunity of perpetrators are all ended," she said.
Observing that besides working towards empowerment of women politically, economically and socially, Tirath said one must debate the relevance of deeply-held beliefs and social attitudes and modify them so that they are not a hindrance to social advancement and economic progress.
Noting that the Indian Government has recently taken a number of steps in this regard, she said fast track courts have been set up to try cases pertaining to violence against women.
"It promulgated an ordinance in February 2013 which broadened the definition of sexual assault and harassment, and violent behaviour and provided for greater accountability of public officials. The Parliament also adopted a law in February to combat sexual harassment of women in the workplace," she said.
Tirath said these measures complement existing legislative framework that address the issue of trafficking, sexual offences against children and domestic violence.
The government is developing protocols for police, medical functionaries and other service providers to improve coordination of its response to victims of violence, she said.